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General NICU Experience

Meet Jodi, Preemie Parent Mentor

My preemie(s) was born at: 28 weeks 4 days
Days spent in the NICU: 77 days
Current age of preemie(s): 2
Parent of Multiples: No

Area of resource: General NICU experience, ASD (Atrial septal defect) Hemangioma, Early Intervention, reflux, supplementing with formula, HELLP Syndrome and Preeclampsia.

My hope is to be a calming influence on and a resource for other preemie parents and to help those who had a traumatic birth similar to mine with respect to HELLP Syndrome and Preeclampsia. I want to help others not feel so alone and isolated on their journey.

I remember feeling so scared and afraid to hold my daughter because of her size and weight when she was first born and that if I held her wrong she would “break”- obviously this is not true. I quickly came to realize that preemie babies are much, much stronger than we give them credit for. They do many things in the outside world that most babies do on the inside, and that takes tons of strength, determination, tenacity and fortitude. I watched her fight with every ounce of her being for those 77 days, and I still do- I tell her she’s the hardest working girl I know. I know in my heart this strength will only serve her well and she continues to grow.

I want to help others navigate the difficult times and give them empathy and understanding. Being a member of the preemie parent club is exclusive and only those who have gone through it can truly relate. If I can mitigate any fears or thoughts from any parent’s head, I will be glad to help.

What are 3 things that every NICU parent/grandparent should know?

I want to help parents remember that YOU are the best advocate for your child. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get your child all the help and support you feel that they need. Ask questions. Trust your instinct and go with your gut there is such a thing as a parent’s intuition and use it when you feel it is warranted.

You are in for an emotional roller coaster ride- joyous one minute and in tears the next. Allow yourself to feel everything you feel – it’s ok. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Give yourself a break. You are under one of the most stressful times and have relinquished all control to your child and the growth process, which is very difficult to process and understand. Despite being nervous and scared, whenever I opened the NICU doors, I left those feelings aside and showered her with love, positivity and strength. Keep a journal- that helped me tons channeling my feelings and thoughts elsewhere.

Kangaroo Care is awesome. Sometimes I feel like my husband and I each got more out of snuggling with our daughter than she did. I truly feel she felt our love for hours each day and that helped her grow and develop in ways she would not have otherwise. A side note, it also helps with blood pressure- having suffered from preeclampsia and HELLP, I would often take my blood pressure multiple times a day and would do so before the NICU and after- it was amazing to see the difference.